New York State Psychological Association Foundation
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DRN Response to the Parkland, FL School Shooting

February 28, 2018

New York State Psychological Association’s Disaster Resource Network Response to the 2-14-18 School Shooting in Parkland, Florida

by Sharon Brennan, PhD, Chair, NYSPA Disaster Resource Network & Patricia Dowds, PhD, NYSPA President

On February 14, 2018, another mass shooting occurred in our country  at a high school in Florida where seventeen lives succumbed to death and many others were pierced with gunshot wounds.  Once again, feelings of horror, fear, sadness, and grief permeate an innocent community and reverberate throughout the country due to a lone shooter unleashing volleys of rage-driven bullets.  The growing frequency of school shootings is reflected in the multiple number of incidents that have occurred just this year alone between January 1 and February 14, 2018.  How many additional lives of children, teenagers, and adults at school, religious services, a movie, a night club, an outdoor concert or other life affirming experiences will be extinguished before legislators at all levels of government across the country extricate themselves from the grip and bondage of an unregulated gun industry?  As psychologists, we understand the importance of secure attachment feelings as core sources of well-being.  Unfortunately, the developmental trajectory of attachment security for some is fused with feelings that their security resides in having a gun.  With each new mass shooting, public commentary and narratives about the psychological aspects of these events assume greater importance and the role of the mental health community in identifying and preventing violence moves more to center stage.  Yet, as NYSPA Member Dr. Lynda Paull so articulately discussed, the availability of mental health services is constrained by shrinking government and private insurance company funding.  We are facing very multi-faceted, complex public health and public safety issues that psychologists can have a significant role in addressing.

In addition to addressing the public health aspects of mental health, insufficient funding, and unregulated gun proliferation issues, as psychologists we have a significant role in providing individual and community support in embracing and healing the grief, fear and uncertainties that unfold from such disasters, as well as helping individuals and communities find, embrace together, and thrive on their strengths.

At NYSPA’s annual convention, June 1-3, we hope to have an expert panel that will illuminate the latest research on and clinical approaches for working psychologically with individuals and communities in the wake of disasters.  We are also in the process of planning a program on mass shootings to enhance the intervention skills of NYSPA members.

Our condolences are offered for those families who lost their precious loved ones. We extend our thoughts and prayers to the entire community and our country.

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The mission of the New York State Psychological Association is to advance the science and practice of psychology as a means of promoting human welfare. For more information on NYSPA visit

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DRN Response to the Parkland, FL School Shooting

New York State Psychological Association’s Disaster Resource Network Response to the 2-14-18 School Shooting in Parkland, Florida by Sharon Brennan, PhD, Chair, NYSPA Disaster Resource Network & Patricia Dowds, PhD, NYSPA President

Read more